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Quad-core Atom based Raspberry Pi lookalike is ready to roll

Apr 14, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 17,931 views

[Updated: Apr. 21] — Aaeon’s UP board, an Atom-based RPi lookalike, will ship in early May. There’s also a new 4GB RAM version.

Aaeon Europe, a subsidiary of Asus, had huge success on Kickstarter last fall with its Intel Atom-based UP board, raising €105,117 from 671 backers. It was originally intended to ship in February, but as is so often the case with crowdsourced hardware, the project has slipped. The good news for backers and others who want to buy the board starting at $89, is that the final PCB has been completed, and boards are expected to start shipping the first week of May.

Updated UP board
(click images to enlarge)

The same can’t be said for the ABS chassis and HDMI cable that were promised free for the first 500 backers. These have been delayed due to heat dissipation problems on the chassis, with no new ship date promised. The first 500 backers can choose to wait or else receive a voucher to purchase add-ons at the UP store.

Up board (left) compared to the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
(click images to enlarge)

In other recent news, this week Intel bundled the UP with its RealSense depth-sensing camera and spun it as a $250, Ubuntu-driven Intel RealSense Robotic Development Kit, with shipments due in June. Earlier this year, Aaeon announced UP support for the RealSense. Also this week, the company launched its UP Community website, expanding it beyond core developers to the general public.

Since the Kickstarter project, the UP has been modified slightly. On the software side, the UP project has posted a BSP for Yocto Project 2.0.1 (“Jethro”), in addition to the previous support for generic Linux, Android 5.0, and Windows 10. Posted on Mar. 25, the open source Yocto Project BSP, which includes Linux Kernel 4.1 patches, offers tools, metadata, and documentation that enable experienced developers to create custom Linux distributions.

Earlier in March, Aaeon announced support for Intel’s mraa C/C++ library with bindings to Python, Javascript and Java. It also announced support for Emutex’s Ubiworx IoT framework, a feature promised back in October.

Updated UP detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The biggest change, announced Mar. 15, is the availability of a 4GB DDR3 RAM version, up from the standard 1GB or 2GB. 4GB is included on the Intel RealSense Robotic Development Kit version in order to accommodate the attached RealSense camera. Aaeon’s UP project also claims that with 4GB 3D gaming and 4K video applications will run more smoothly. The $149 4GB version also ships with 32GB eMMC, an option we didn’t see on the original Kickstarter page. This option is still not listed for the 1GB or 2GB versions.

The final UP board has added eDP support. In addition, the website notes new support for DSI, although this had already been listed in the specs on Kickstarter.

In February, Aaeon announced an improvement to its Raspberry Pi 2 compatible 40-pin connector for GPIO and serial buses. Specifically, it integrated an Altera MAX V CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device) that can output DC current up to 170mA, as well as an 8-bit, 189Ksps ADC. Together, these improvements are said to enable mixed analog/digital applications.

The MAX V CLPD provides for “breadboard-friendly” GPIO, and supports re-programming to change GPIO-driver strength, slew-rate (fast/slow), Schmitt trigger, internal Pull-Up, and internal Clamp-diode, says Aaeon. The CPLD can also be re-programmed to integrate “ad-hoc” Finite-State-Machines to have faster responses by reducing the latency of OS/drivers.

The UP is notable as one of the first Linux-ready, x86-based, community-backed hacker SBCs that is not sponsored by Intel (MinnowBoard, Galileo, Edison, etc.) or AMD (Gizmo 2). Since then, Jaguar Electronic HK found its own Kickstarter success with a Linux- and Android-friendly JaguarBoard a community-backed SBC based on a 22nm-fabricated (Bay Trail) quad-core Atom Z3735G.

The JaguarBoard was available on Kickstarter for $65, but will retail for $79. The boards have shipped, but we’re not seeing a shopping page for new orders.

The UP runs on the new, 14nm “Cherry Trail” Atom x5-Z8350, a faster quad-core SoC clocked to 1.44GHz with 1.92GHz burst speed and low, 2 Watt consumption (per Intel’s “scenario design power” spec). You can load 1GB, 2GB, and now 4GB of RAM, as well as 16GB, 32GB, and on the 4GB version at least, 64GB eMMC flash. The UP features a GbE port, four USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 OTG port, and the aforementioned HDMI, DSI, and eDP interfaces.

Other features include a MIPI-CSI camera support, a fairly broad 0 to 60°C temperature range, and an RTC. There’s also an optional EnOcean Kinetic Design Kit and Smart Home Kit. (See our previous coverage for more on the UP.)

Specifications listed for the UP board SBC include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (4x Cherry Trail cores @ 1.44GHz / 1.92GHz burst); Intel HD 400 Graphics (200MHz/500MHz)
  • Memory — 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB DDR3L-1600 RAM; 16GB or 32GB eMMC flash
  • Display/camera:
    • DSI (HDMI 1.4b) I2S audio port
    • eDP
    • CSI (4-megapixel) port
      • Up to 3-4 meters indoors, longer range outdoors
      • Depth/IR modes — 640 x 480 pixels @ 60fps
      • RGB mode — 1080p @ 30fps
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 port
    • 6x USB 2.0 ports (2x via headers)
    • I2S audio port
    • 40-pin expansion bus (supported by Altera Max V. ADC 8-bit @ 188ksos)
  • Other features — RTC
  • Power — 5V DC-in @ 3A 5.5/2.1mm jack
  • Dimensions — 85.60 × 56.5mm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux

Raspberry Pi’s growing list of lookalikes

The 85.6 x 56.5mm UP board is one of a growing list of boards that not only adopts the Raspberry Pi’s 40-pin expansion adapter, but also mimics the size of the Raspberry Pi and the layout of its ports. Can you guess the identity of the boards shown below without viewing an enlarged image?

Raspberry Pi (top left), followed by many of its lookalikes
(click images to enlarge them and see their names)

Further information

The UP board is available for $89 (1GB RAM) or $99 (2GB RAM), each with 16GB flash. The 4GB RAM version, which starts at 32GB of flash, goes for $149. Shipments are expected in May. More information may be found at Aaeon’s new UP Community site.

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4 responses to “Quad-core Atom based Raspberry Pi lookalike is ready to roll”

  1. chip says:

    Atom on a RPi-like board is great news!
    This one looks a bit pricey, especially the lower end one, although if they made a multiple SATA (4+) version optimized for software RAID it would easily become a killer board for home servers and NAS applications.
    Also, please consider a “flat” version as well, ie no connectors mounted except for LVDS and smallish ones, for those who would roll their own tablet. I see a lot of potential development on those fields.

  2. Mike Lothian says:

    It might be worth noting that with HDMI 1.4 the device will only be able to output [email protected] – HDMI 2.0 is required to get [email protected]

  3. raj says:

    Does it support RTAI. What is the price of this board and in how many days can you deliver this to INDIA.

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